By Yinka Olatunbosun

A new handbook on the practice of art collecting titled, “Collecting Art” will be presented to the public on November 10 at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi. There is no gainsaying that the book is a necessary literary effort conceived to match up to the growing need for an understanding of art collecting. Written by two of Nigeria’s top notch art collectors, Professor Fabian Ajogwu SAN and Jess Castellote, the handbook highlights the due diligence required in collecting art.

In the face of the dearth of knowledge of the ethics involved in art collecting, the authors prepared this book as a reference material for novice and experienced collector to have a better understanding of collecting art. At a press briefing held at the Kenna Partners, Oniru, the authors pointed out that there is no single “right” way of collecting art, but there are many practices that are inimical to art collection of quality.

According to the authors, with the increased interest in art, there is need to provide a form of guide to collectors on how to navigate the complex and often-tortuous paths of what is viewed today as a multi-dollar business.

Two years ago, THISDAY published a story with the headline, “A Curious Case of Alteration” which was an investigative report on an artist who tried to seek redress at the Citizens’ Mediation Centre for his painting that had been sold to a Lagos collector. The collector had allegedly tampered with the painting and put it up for auction without the knowledge or consent of the artist. In this investigation, THISDAY explored the legal framework for seeking redress when an artist’s work has been tampered with. The new handbook offers deeper insights on related matters. Adjudged as the technical aspect of art economics which should interest dealers, critics, scholars, journalists and art enthusiasts, art collecting is not to be confused as having just being in possession of art works.

Hence, the authors discussed in the book the motives and approaches to collecting; knowledge of the rights and duties of collectors, artists and dealers. Also, the authors examined the future of the collection in the case of death of the collector. More often than not, a collector dies without making provisions in his will as regards how his collection should be managed posthumously. One of the chapters of the book provides guidance on how to keep proper inventories for future generations.

In their findings, Ajogwu and Castellote discovered that sometimes, professionals advising collectors on issues of taxation, insurance, wealth investment, estate planning, legal matters are not well acquainted with even the basic features of the practice of art collecting. Therefore, the handbook, though not a textbook, advances better understanding of art collecting in the art community.

Collecting Art is co-written by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Lagos Business School, Professor of Corporate Governance, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu and a Director of the Foundation of Contemporary and Modern Visual Arts (FCMVA).